It would appear that leaders have to be extraverted. Extraverts appear confident, self-assured, and bold. They speak their mind, are decisive, and project power. Extraverts do make fine leaders, but leadership is not a quality which is mutually exclusive to extraverts. Introverts also have leadership qualities; they are just more subtle.

The difference between a Manager and a Leader:

Managers Leaders
Rigid adherence to rules regardless of the situation Flexible interpretation of rules based on the situation
Anxious Cool and collected
Crumble or become more rigid under pressure Become more efficient and flexible under pressure
Conventional thinkers Creative thinkers
Specific but shallow Knowledge of the field Broad knowledge of the field with areas of specialty
Indecisive Decisive
Create anxiety in people under them Inspire confidence in people under them
Abandon you and betray employees when they fail. Protect you and teach you if you fail
Offer criticism without the tools to improve performance. Are teachers, instructors and mentors
Are random and inconsistent Have integrity
Micromanage    Set you in motion give you autonomy to do the job

I have had the privilege of working with great leaders. I have never worked for a good manager. The difference is day and night. I have worked in places where a manager or supervisor was not even close to the most experienced or qualified person. Rather they were simple, conventional and would do whatever they were told by whoever was above them without question. That is why they were put in charge of others. They would not rock the boat, or cause any disruption by questioning the status quo. I saw this most frequently in anxiety driven organizations, e.g., the mental health care field.

You may have noticed by now, especially if you have read some of my other posts on this site, that I am rather critical of my own profession. I think that members of a given professional should be highly critical of their own profession, and of course, themselves. You need to keep your house clean and in order, and make constant improvements. How will you do that if you pretend problems, flaws, faults and shortcomings do not exist? In an anxiety driven work environment, such criticism is seen as disruptive, creativity and unconventional thinking are seen as too high risk. Rigidity and inflexibility are the corporate cultural norm. This is a stagnant and oppressive organization. How can it prosper and grow, and provide the service it is intended to, in the case of a mental health organization?

What are the qualities that make introverts good leaders?

Introverts have many of the above listed qualities. Specifically Introverts:

  1. Prepare for a task
  2. Are Present, in the here and now when communicating.
  3. Push themselves to grow and develop
  4. Practice skills which they are weak at. (Tartakovsky, 2013).
  5. Listen to others, including their non-verbal language.
  6. Embrace Solitude as time to think, analyze, prioritize, and plan.
  7. Are Cool and collected and remain so under pressure (Smith, 2014)

Some great introvert leaders who epitomize these seven qualities are:

  1. Bill Gates, Chairman and co-founder of Microsoft, and philanthropist
  2. Warren Buffet, billionaire (net worth 5 5 billion, fourth wealthiest man in the world) and philanthropist
  3. Abraham Lincoln, (Schocker, 2015), attorney, civil right activist, 16th president of the United States (Biography.com, 2015).
  4. Albert Einstein, physicist, (Schocker, 2015), professor at Princeton, (biography .com, 2015a)  Nobel prize winner
  5. Rosa Parks, who refused to relinquish her seat on a bus in the segregated south, starting the civil right movement (Schocker, 2015)
  6. Elon Musk, who is widely known as the real life Iron Man/Tony Stark founder of Tesla, PayPal, and Space X.
  7. Larry Page, founder and CEO of Google
  8. Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple
  9. Steven Spielberg, Director (Roberts, 2013)

If you are an introvert, you have the innate qualities needed for becoming a leader. The world needs more leaders with the substance of introverts, not charismatic types who are all form.

Written by David A. Porter, MA, LADC
Private Practice, Otter Creek Associates
Adjunct Faculty in Psychology and Criminology, Community College of Vermont & Burlington College
Freelance Behavioral Science writer